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May 1, 2013: Our readers write

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Medical movement

Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry insinuated in his letter that I own land where a proposed county government building might be constructed. I would like to assure the judge I do not own a square inch of property downtown. My main concern is not moving county offices from downtown but rather with Hardin Memorial Hospital, which I spent a lifetime helping to build.

I am glad to know HMH is debt free. I am concerned by it struggling to meet budget projections. I am afraid with Obamacare that the hospital’s problems will become worse, and I am hoping the county will be in a position to help the hospital.

The judge is a politician and should know better, but he has decided to make this personal. We have to consider the judge has no family, sense of place or history for Hardin County as many of us do. He feels he is superior to us, an elite, and should be rewarded for his compassion, telling us what to do to live our lives.

Now let’s review the facts that disturb Berry. I believe the figure quoted was $12 million for the new county building not the $10 million stated in his letter. The $20 million that I quoted included debt services. I quoted the new hospital expansion as being $40-50 million. The judge seemed to protest this, but it is the figure published as the proper cost. I stand by my figures for the county’s recently approved spending approaching $100 million. What the judge did not include was money spent for medical practices, emergency care and outpatient surgery facility buyouts.

Local surgeons were using the Surgical Center instead of the hospital, so HMH buys out the surgery practices and then proceeds to buy the outpatient surgery center. That makes no sense. The hospital apparently could not compete cost wise with Elizabethtown Diagnostic Imaging. Solution: Buy EDI. Since this acquisition, the cost of total body MRIs have more than doubled. This can’t be good. Then there is the purchase of AcuteCare, which HMH moved to Care First, only to be replaced by Urgent Care at the same location. What exactly did the hospital buy?

Why is HMH buying these medical facilities? Do we really want a monopolized health care system controlled by our county government?

Now let’s look at what the judge did not comment about. He made no comment about the money Hardin County government has been taking from HMH. He made no comment on the property, bought by the hospital appraised at almost $1 million, on which he plans to build the new government building. The state has notified county governments of their share of the unfunded pension deficits the counties may have to pay. We have heard nothing about this.

The land selected by the county is perfect for a landfill. There is 200-250 feet of shale oil underneath the landfill. There is no way that groundwater could have been compromised because of this. Yet the county proceeded to spend millions of dollars as if no shale oil existed on the property. They should have at least tried to obtain waivers and exemptions and saved taxpayers’ money.

The county had several other available locations, but with eminent domain backing them up, they chose to buy the Audubon Trace location. We had no choice but to sell. Our neighbors burned our fence and placed threatening signs on our property. We had sheriff deputies patrol our neighborhood for several months. No one, including our family, wants to live close to a garbage dump. Our county judge was not here during this time period and knows nothing of what he speaks.

Larry J. Hall, M.D.

Elizabethtown